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South Africa's fynbos region has intrigued biologists for centuries. It has achieved iconic status as a locus of megadiversity and therefore a place to study the ecological underpinnings of massive evolutionary radiations. Researchers have made great advances over the past two decades in unravelling the complexities of fynbos ecology and evolution, and the region has contributed significant insights into the adaptive radiations of large lineages, conservation science, pollination biology, invasive plant biology, and palaeoanthropology. Lessons from the fynbos offer much of value for understanding the origin, maintenance, and conservation of diversity anywhere in the world.
Fynbos: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation of a Megadiverse Region provides the first synthesis of the field for 20 years, bringing together the latest ecological and evolutionary research on the South African global biodiversity hotspots of the Greater Cape Floristic Region – the iconic fynbos and succulent karoo. It explores the historical and modern physical and biological environment of this region, the circumstances and processes which have fostered its remarkable biodiversity, and the role this diversity has played in the emergence of modern humans. It also discusses the challenges of contemporary management and conservation of the region's biodiversity in the face of accelerating global change.
1: Vegetation types of the Greater Cape Floristic Region: Nicola G. Bergh, G. Anthony Verboom, Mathieu Rouget, and Richard M. Cowling
2: Landscapes, rock types and climate of the Greater Cape Floristic Region: Peter L. Bradshaw and Richard M. Cowling
3: Drivers, ecology and management of fire in fynbos: Tineke Kraaij and Brian W. van Wilgen
4: Floristic and faunal Cape biochoria: do they exist?: Jonathan F. Colville, Alastair J. Potts, Peter L. Bradshaw, G. John Measey, Dee Snijman, Mike D. Picker, Şerban Procheş, Rauri C. K. Bowie, and John C. Manning
5: Cenozoic assembly of the Greater Cape flora: G. Anthony Verboom, H. Peter Linder, Félix Forest, Vera Hoffmann, Nicola G. Bergh, Richard M. Cowling
6: Speciation and extinction in the Greater Cape Floristic Region: Allan G. Ellis, G. Anthony Verboom, Timo van der Niet, Steven D. Johnson, H. Peter Linder
7: The shifting landscape of genes since the Pliocene: terrestrial phylogeography in the Greater Cape Floristic Region: Krystal A. Tolley, Rauri C.K. Bowie, G. John Measey, Benjamin W. Price and Félix Forest
8: Stone age people in a changing South African Greater Cape Floristic Region: Curtis W. Marean, Hayley C. Cawthra, Richard M. Cowling, Karen J. Esler, Erich Fisher, Antoni Milewski, Alastair J. Potts, Elzanne Singels, and Jan De Vynck
9: The assembly and function of Cape plant communities in a changing world: Jasper A. Slingsby, David D. Ackerly, Andrew M. Latimer, H. Peter Linder and Anton Pauw
10: Biotic interactions: Bruce Anderson, Nicky Allsopp, Allan G. Ellis, Steven D. Johnson, Jeremy J. Midgley, Anton Pauw, James G. Rodger
11: Plant ecophysiological diversity: Michael D. Cramer, Adam G. West, Simon C. Power, Robert Skelton and William D. Stock
12: Biological invasions in the Cape Floristic Region: history, current patterns, impacts, and management challenges: John R. Wilson, Mirijam Gaertner, Charles L. Griffiths, Ian Kotzé, David C. Le Maitre, Sean M. Marr, Mike D. Picker, Dian Spear, Louise Stafford, David M. Richardson, Brian W. van Wilgen, Andrew Wannenburgh
13: Impacts of climate change in the Greater Cape Floristic Region: Res Altwegg, Adam West, Lindsey Gillson, Guy F. Midgley
14: Conserving the Cape Floristic Region: Mathieu Rouget, Mandy Barnett, Richard M. Cowling, Tracey Cumming, Fahiema Daniels, M. Timm Hoffman, Andrew Knight, Jeff Manuel, Azisa Parker, Domitilla Raimondo, Tony Rebelo
15: People, the Cape Floristic Region and Sustainability: Nicky Allsopp, Pippin M.L. Anderson, Patricia M. Holmes, Annalie Melin, Patrick J. O'Farrell
16: Geography, climate and biodiversity: the history and future of mediterranean-type ecosystems: David D. Ackerly, William D. Stock, Jasper A. Slingsby
Dr Nicky Allsopp manages the Fynbos Node of the South African Environmental Observation Network. She started her research career investigating nutrient uptake specializations of fynbos vegetation and followed this with studies of nutrient patterns and processes associated with vegetation degradation in most of the major biomes in South Africa. While working in communal rangelands, she became interested in the social dimensions of environmental management. Recently she served as an editor and author on the South African Department of Science and Technology's Global Change Research Plan. She is also involved with the Fynbos Forum which promotes science-management-decision making communication and action.
Dr Tony Verboom holds an associate professorship in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cape Town, teaching topics in systematics, evolutionary ecology and land plant diversity. Research-wise he is interested in questions relating to speciation, adaptation and the processes that underpin the spatial organization of biodiversity. Much of his research has involved the use of systematic tools to understand better the assembly of the modern Cape flora. To date, Dr Verboom has published 39 papers in international peer-reviewed journals. He regularly reviews for international journals and currently serves as an associate editor for Austral Ecology. He also co-edited a special issue of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution entitled 'Origins and evolution of a biodiversity hotspot, the biota of the African Cape Floristic Region'.
Dr Jonathan Colville holds a NRF-Research Career Advancement Fellowship and is currently based at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) within the Kirstenbosch Research Centre, where he conducts research on the ecology and evolution of South Africa's insects, as well as their conservation and value as ecosystem service providers. Most of his research focuses on investigating the patterns and processes of insect diversity, with a particular interest on the insect faunas of the Greater Cape Floristic Region, in which several insect groups show clear signatures of adaptive radiation. Dr Colville serves as an associate editor for African Entomology and is a member of the Entomological Society and Lepidopterists' Society of Southern Africa. He is an avid natural historian of insects and plants: in 2002 he was involved in the scientific discovery of the World's most recent insect order, and in 2011, he was involved in the discovery of the World's first jumping cockroach.
"For new initiates to the Greater Cape Floristic Region (GCFR), this book will be the primary go-to reference; for those more familiar with the region and its biota, much of the material will be familiar, but there are many surprising new nuggets of information [...] The GCFR has a high global profile as a case study in diversity, alien invasions, and conservation. For this reason, this new book commends itself not only to researchers interested in the GCFR or mediterranean-climate ecosystems specifically, but to those interested in the diversity of life on our planet more generally."
– Ryan Chisholm, Ecology